Godolphin trainer's disgrace complete with eight-year ban

BHA disciplinary panel bars horses injected with steroids from running for six months

The British Horseracing Authority has completed the astounding, headlong fall from grace of Mahmood al-Zarooni by banning him for eight years. On Monday evening, the BHA had shocked the racing world by announcing that 11 of the Godolphin trainer's horses had tested positive for anabolic steroids in random testing of 45 horses at his Newmarket stable on 9 April. It took only 72 hours to convene a disciplinary panel and pronounce a verdict on Zarooni – leaving observers divided as to whether the regulators had been merely ruthless, or reckless.

In a way, it hardly mattered whether he was banned for eight minutes or eight years. His employer, Sheikh Mohammed, has professed such fury over the humiliation of his elite stable that he has shut its gates, pending tests on every horse. The 37-year-old Zarooni's career is in ruins.

Simon Crisford, the Godolphin manager, said after the hearing that "the vet's assistant had no idea what he was injecting" and that he "had a direct order" from the trainer. "This is a terrible situation," Crisford said.

"Mr Al-Zarooni acted with awful recklessness and caused tremendous damage, not only to Godolphin and British racing. I think it will take a very long time for Godolphin to regain the trust of the British public. We're shocked and completely outraged by the actions he has taken."

As soon as the sensation had erupted, the Godolphin website quoted Zarooni as professing regret for "a catastrophic error" in administering ethylestranol to seven horses and stanozolol to a further four; he subsequently admitted that four other horses not tested by the BHA had been given steroids. He claimed that he had been unaware that he was breaching any rules, as the horses were out of competition. This would have been the case in certain overseas jurisdictions, but Crisford said that he did not find that protest of naïvete credible. "Everyone knows you can't use steroids in England," he declared.

Zarooni issued another contrite statement. "I accept it was my responsibility to be aware of the rules," he said. "I would like to apologise to Sheikh Mohammed, as well as to all those involved with Godolphin, and the public who follow British racing."

The BHA had initially been told the trainer would have a legal representative as he answered charges before its disciplinary panel. In the event, he faced the music on his own. It seems as though no exculpation was ever going to be offered. His name was on the licence, after all, and the rules specify strict liability for trainers in such circumstances. But the BHA stressed that its investigation had established Zarooni's direct accountability. It also emerged after the hearing that the BHA will conduct the horse-by-horse testing at Moulton Paddocks, the yard at the centre of the scandal.

The 15 horses known to have received steroids were meanwhile suspended for six months – almost the entire Flat season. Certify, previously among the leading fancies for the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday week, is among those who must remain idle until 9 October. Jamie Stier, the BHA director of raceday operations and regulation, explained: "The suspension reflects the period beyond which the BHA is confident that the horses can have derived no performance-related benefit from these prohibited substances."

Paul Bittar, its chief executive, insisted that the BHA had not shown undue haste. "As soon as the nature and number of positives became apparent, we recognised a number of challenges for the sport and the BHA, initially in the very short term," he said. "The immediate priority was to establish how the prohibited substances came to be present in the horses' samples. Secondly, in view of the potential repercussions for the sport and the profile of the races for which some of the horses held entries, it was in the public's interest, as well as that of the BHA and Godolphin, to progress the disciplinary procedures as quickly as possible."

Ultimately, he felt that an "exceptional" case also had benefits. "We believe the outcome is an endorsement for the effectiveness of British racing's dope-testing programme," he said. "[It] will serve to reassure the public, and the sport's participants, that use of performance-enhancing substances in British racing will not be tolerated."

 



Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there